This is guidance for Ofsted inspectors, taken from the School Inspection Handbook . It sets out the protocol for contacting a school that is about to be inspected, and lists what must be provided to the inspection team. (I have flagged up what governors should be aware of.)
- Update April 2013: You may like to look at a useful timeline checklist, compiled by John Tomsett, of preparations for an Ofsted inspection.
June 2012: The handbook has two parts. (Note that the following extract was taken from the version published in June 2012, which has been updated several times since. Check the link above to access the latest edition of the Handbook)
- Part 1 – How schools will be inspected: this contains instructions and guidance for inspectors on the preparation for and conduct of school inspections.
- Part 2 – The evaluation schedule: this contains guidance for inspectors on judging the quality of education provided by the schools they inspect, and provides an indication of the main types of evidence they collect and analyse. Includes the grade criteria.
The following extract is sections 12 – 18 (Pages 6 – 7) from Part 1.
Notification and introduction
12. The lead inspector will normally inform the school at, or after, midday on the working day before the start of the inspection. Lead inspectors should bear in mind that they may not get through to the school immediately. They should reserve sufficient time to ensure that they make direct contact during the afternoon.
13. If the headteacher is unavailable, the lead inspector should ask to speak to the most senior member of staff available. Once the lead inspector has spoken to the school and is able to confirm that the inspection will take place, s/he will inform the inspection service provider (ISP), who will send formal confirmation to the school by email.
14. The purpose of the lead inspector’s notification call is to:
- inform the school of the inspection
- make the school aware of its statutory duty to inform parents of the inspection
- make arrangements for the inspection; this includes an invitation to the headteacher to participate in joint observations and main inspection team meetings
- make arrangements for discussions with key staff
- make arrangements for a meeting with the chair of governors or a representative of the body responsible for governance
- establish whether the school has any pupils who attend off-site alternative provision either on a full- or part-time basis
- establish whether the school has registered provision for children under the age of three
- invite the school to share a summary of its self-evaluation (if available) as soon as possible
- request that relevant documents from the school are made available as soon as possible from the start of the inspection
- provide an opportunity for the school to raise any initial questions.
15. The telephone call is an important opportunity to initiate a professional relationship between the lead inspector and the headteacher. It should be short and focused on practical issues. Inspectors should not use this as an opportunity to probe or investigate the school’s self-evaluation.
16. Inspectors should also request that the following information is made available at the start of the inspection:
- if available, a summary of the school’s self-evaluation (if not already shared with the lead inspector)
- the current school improvement plan
- school timetable information, staff list and times for the school day
- any information about pre-planned interruptions to normal school routines during the inspection
- the single central record, which summarises the checks and vetting of all staff working with pupils
- all logs that record exclusions, pupils taken off roll, incidents of poor behaviour, racist incidents and incidents of bullying, including homophobic bullying
- details about the school’s use of alternative provision
- up-to-date attendance information
- records of the monitoring of the quality of teaching
- information about the school’s performance management arrangements, including the most recent performance management outcomes and their relationship to salary progression; inspectors should make it clear that this must be provided in an anonymised format
- documented evidence of the work of governors and their impact (‘Governors’ refers to those responsible for governance in a school. They may be part of a school’s local board, committee or governing body)
- reports of any external evaluation of the school.
Requests for deferral
17. If a school requests a deferral of its inspection the lead inspector must make Ofsted aware through the ISP. Ofsted will decide whether this should be granted in accordance with Ofsted’s policy on the deferral of inspections. The deferral policy makes clear that the absence of the headteacher is not normally a reason for deferring an inspection.
Informing parents of the inspection
18. When the ISP sends confirmation of the inspection to the school by email, this will include a letter which gives formal notification of the inspection for parents. The school must take such steps as are reasonably practicable to notify all parents of registered pupils, and the letter will invite parents to give their views about the school to the lead inspector and will provide them with the following information:
- the website address for Parent View (http://www.parentview.ofsted.gov.uk/)
- how to communicate with, or request a meeting with the inspection team.
To read more, find out what happens once the inspection team arrive.
Download the Handbook here.
Access the grade criteria for each of the key judgements.